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Stronghold 2 » Forums » Stronghold and Crusader: Scenario Design and Modding Forum » 20-question SD questionnaire
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Topic Subject:20-question SD questionnaire
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lord_yoshi
Archer
posted 01-16-04 04:39 EST (US)         
I'm bored and this forum has been so quiet lately that I've decided to post this public interview to boost forum activity here. You don't have to answer each and every question in this enquiry (you can answer each question, of course). I've written these questions a long time ago and some may have already been asked in some previous surveys we've had before. Ignore those questions if you've answered them already in similar inquiries.

***

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?
2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?
3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?
4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?
5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

------

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)
7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?
8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?
10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?
11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

------

12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)
13. What makes a scenario fun to play?
14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?
15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?
16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

------

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?
18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?
19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?
20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?
21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

***

There's no question #9, because I deleted that one. It was about the future SH2 editor and that needs not be discussed in this thread.

I'll post my answers later today.


"That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee." — Winnie-the-Pooh, the World's greatest philosopher

Tower of Stronghold & Crusader Scenario Design

AuthorReplies:
talos_911
Archer
posted 01-16-04 06:27 EST (US)     1 / 31       
Firstly, This is a nice Questionnaire Lord Yoshi . I hope people have the patience to answer it.

***

Quote:

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

This is way too long a process to describe... generally I start by getting my bearing on the map (i.e. which side is the keep facing)... I feel this is critical because in my first map (Movie LOTR2 : Helms Deep), I had made the entire castle and placed the keep last... and discovered to my horror that the keep was facing the wrong way!
In the end, I was able to turn it into a defensive advantage... but from then on, I see which way the keep is going to face, before starting anything else.

For sequence of events... one can refer to the Scenario Design Bible over at SHK... from conceptualizing the story, right down to taking screenies of the completed map and promoting it.

Quote:

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?


You must have a vision for your map before starting it... a pre-defined idea of what you're going to do, for example, in case of movie based maps... how will you be portraying certain elements from the movie in the game within the confines of the editor... what part you will be leaving out, etc.
Even if this vision changes during the course of map-making (which ALWAYS happens with me).


Quote:

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?


I decide according to the scale of the map... there really isn't much of decision to make... I just start off with the biggest map size and work on from there.

Quote:

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?


Perfect balance is only achieved by a LOT of playtesting, and (atleast for me) with the help of experienced playtesters.

Quote:

5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)


On average... about 3 to 4 months.

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Quote:

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)


Adding walls and extra elements around the keep, to give it a customized look.

Quote:

7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?


I only design for SH at the moment... At one point I was designing for SH:C as well, but i've stopped that now.

Quote:

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

No comments.

Quote:

10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?


I feel Playtesters play a very crucial role in balancing a map.
Firstly, the map designer is obviously familiar with every nook and cranny of his map, and would know any weaknesses in the castle's design (in case of pre-built castles)... also, he/she would know exactly when an event is scripted for etc... so the map might seem a bit too easy, and might consequently become too hard for others.
Secondly, they use different approaches to the map, so that one can ensure that the map is balanced for a variety of playing styles.
Jalis and UnikUnok really helped in this aspect in order to make Helm's Deep a success.

Quote:

11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

After the balancing fine-tuned, I let the map run without doing anyting on it (i'm talking of defensive-sieges here), If I lost spectacularly, then I move onto the next phase, and play the map while doing minimal troop control (generally playing like a rookie)... If I lose by a large margin again... then I feel the map is ready (or I send it for a final playtest by other playtesters for confirmation).

------

Quote:

12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)


My motto is :

Quote:

Fun First


No matter how good an eyecandy will look, or how accurate a castle is... if it doesn't play well... then one should as well submit it in the freebuild.
A great designer balances the two elements and gives more precedence to Playability. A classic example of this is Sulis' latest map... Sylvandell 5.

Quote:

13. What makes a scenario fun to play?


Here, i'd like to quote myself from a post I made over at SHK.

An overwhelming majority of maps (up at SHH) are average works with the goal of creating a good looking or impossible to siege castle (most newbies make sieges since it takes less time to make and easier). However this approach usually wash functionality and balance down the drain. This also leaves landscaping out.

Your point about either making the map good looking to balance out tactical weakness and vice-versa is spot on. A perfect balance between these factors, while possible, is hard to achieve and a little deviation could easily be ignored by compensating with the other.

A hard fought battle and subsequent win is much more appreciated than an easy one. The key however is winning...
Thats where the bane of map designers comes in...BALANCE !

Since we are discussing about tips to make good maps...I'd like to put in my two cents.
Perfect Balance (according to the very good review guidelines at SHH) is when a player loses the map the first few times before winning...or on a smaller scale, loses the bulk of his/her forces before winning.
Now, some seek to make this by pitting huge armies against each other and counting on the fact that he won the battle with huge amount of losses. BUT the problem occurs when players use different strategies...as a result one could win the very same battle easily or not win at all.
One of the ways to solve this problem which I use is to create the ILLUSION of losing, all the while making sure that the player WILL win in the end.

For example, in my first map... Movie Helm's Deep (doesn't really look like HD does it ). The player faces an army of 100 swordsmen, 100 pikemen, 200 macemen and 100 other baddies. while all they have are about 100 archers and a handful of swordsmen and pikemen... so how do they win ?
Traps and Pitch... although the player can see them, the psychological feeling they get is that they are sorely outnumbered. However as the game moves on, and the enemy breaks through several layers of defences this trepadition turns into resignation as the enemy marches on endlessly. But the force multiplyers , the traps and pitch ditches, thin the ranks until the very end when the way to the keep is clear and all you have left are 5 swordsmen in top of the keep and the last wave of 30 pikemen marching for you.... the slight hope goes again... but as the pikemen climb, they meet death (5 swordsmen near the keep entrance can handle much more than that too!). And from hopeless resignation to victory...the range of emotions is what makes a map exciting.

If the enemy were to meet their doom before they breached the wall with your forces intact or you would have lost no matter what you tried...then the map is a failure...but by surprising the player, even a not-too-well-made map such as Helm's Deep has got very good reviews.

That I believe is what makes for a good map.


Quote:

14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?


A majority of my maps are movie based... so my 'creativity' is defined as how well I am able to emulate the movie structure and chain of events into the map while keeping it as much fun as possible... There is no secret to my creativity... just a LOT of research work on the map before production starts and an understading of the game editor and its mechanics.

Quote:

15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?


Definetly the latter, as I myself follow this mantra.

Quote:

16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?


Only one scenario at a time.

------

Quote:

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?


As and when time permits, but I try to be regular.

Quote:

18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?


Without sounding concieted... I feel confident in a scenario I submit, because I know I've put in a lot of effort in it to make it stand out from the crowd.

By advertising it as if it were the next best thing since sliced bread :P.
I just try to make people aware of its existence, by posting in threads such as the Review Request thread, or upcoming maps' thread...
I also make my download description as presentable and polished as humanly possible... if you work on a map for months on end, one shouldn't spare the effort in the d/l description.
As you may have noticed, I also have links to my maps in my sig too .

Quote:

19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?


No way.

Quote:

20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?


I started scenario designing because I couldn't find a decent movie based Helm's deep map! I just decided to make one myself.
I got some good reviews, especially Sulis' which encouraged me to make more maps... after that I was hooked :P.

Quote:

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?


I do research on maps i'd like to make.

***


There you have it .

@ Yoshi : Do you think I can post this questionnaire over at SHK ? or do you want to do it ?
We'd appreciate it .

-Talos_911

[This message has been edited by talos_911 (edited 01-17-2004 @ 00:50 AM).]

lord_yoshi
Archer
posted 01-16-04 11:29 EST (US)     2 / 31       
Talos, sure, you can post this in SHK if you want.

My answers to my own questions:

***

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

To be honest, I can't answer this question, because it's too big an issue. I haven't had much time for the editor recently, so I can't even remember my usual map making process in great detail.

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

I would suggest new designers to play as many "Best of" scenarios as possible before submitting any maps of your own. Playing some of the "Worst of" (no, there's no such dl section in SHH) scenarios is also helpful, because you can find out what makes a bad map. Also, it would be good to read as many map making articles as possible to learn stuff from the more experienced designers.

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Aargh. Who keeps asking these annoying questions?

Well, sometimes I start with the largest map size if I know I'll be needing a lot space. Sometimes I start with the smallest map size, if I want to make the scenario more intense. If I'm not sure about which map size to start with, I'll start with the smallest map size or 200x200.

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I don't have much experience on balancing invasions and attacking siege forces as that's not my field of interest. But the way I balance the victory conditions in Economic or Eco-invasions is rather simple: I just play the scenario for the first few times without any victory conditions scripted. After I think I've played the scenario for long enough, I write down the amount of resources I've gathered. I'll play the scenario for about 2 or 3 times at first. Then I add the victory conditions based on the max number of resources I've managed to gather. Then I just playtest the map more.

5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

I can make a decent, playable map in a few hours/days, but usually I spend a few weeks on each map. I don't usually spend more than a few months at maximum. My longest map project for Stronghold took a year to finish, but I wasn't actively working on it all year long. I started working on the map in the Autumn of 2002 and released the map a year later, but I had actually only worked on it for a few weeks/months.

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6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

I like all those eye-candies you can make with walls, like fountains, lowered walls and wall towers. These are most common type of eye-candy I use on my maps. I also use a lot of natural eye-candy.

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I like its simplicity and the landscape editor. I also like being able to change the map size and be able to convert .sav files into .map files. Of course there are other things I like about it, too.

On the negative side, I find the lack of real triggers quite annoying at times, because it limits my creativity. Designing for AoK made me too dependent on triggers and I often find it hard to live without them. I also wish you could design Fixed Force scenarios for SH, but you can't really do that in SH.

10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

I playtest my scenarios on my own.

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12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

No. Playability is always more important than anything else.

15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

This is something I often think about. Is it really worth spending weeks or months on a really, really good scenario that only takes a few hours to finish, while you could spend that time on a large number of much smaller scenarios, which might not be as creative and unique as a map that has been worked on for months, but are fun to play nevertheless? Sometimes I think designers should forget about quality and uniqueness and creativity and focus more on the quantity rather than quality. That's what I've been doing lately. A while ago, I released a small map pack consisting of small scenarios that I've made in a few days. They're not unique and highly creative, but should be okay to play. I think I'm going to make some more of these little snack scenarios in the future as well as I'm tired of always trying to make really good 4.0+ scenarios.

16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

I can work on multiple scenarios at a time. I have no problem with that.

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19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

Does it really matter? If the map is fun to play and the map design is okay and the story is okay, but it's not highly unique and even if the map's a bit too easy, does it really matter if you don't get a 4.8 rating?

20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I don't always feel motivated enough to design scenarios. Sometimes it can take me months to start a new project. Right now, I don't feel very motivated to design anything, because I've run out of ideas. I hope to make some small scenarios in the future, but I really have no ongoing projects at the moment.

I originally started designing scenarios in 1997 for Warcraft II when I needed more maps to play and I wasn't familiar enough with the Internet to find maps there. So, I had a practical reason to start designing scenarios.

***

I didn't answer each question, because I couldn't think of good answers for all of the questions.


"That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee." — Winnie-the-Pooh, the World's greatest philosopher

Tower of Stronghold & Crusader Scenario Design

Duke of York
Knight
posted 01-16-04 20:57 EST (US)     3 / 31       
Lord Yoshi, what an excellent idea. I have tried similar smaller polls in the past with limited results. My wife is at work and the kids are in bed, so here goes.....

__________________________________________________________
1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario.
___________________________________________________________

This would depend on two things, if I was recreating an historic castle or if it was just an imaginary place only to be found in the recesses of my mind.

If it is an historic castle, I start with the castle - complete it and then complete the surrounding terrain. Once the modeling and terrain are complete, I then start scripting and playtesting ideas. Victory objectives and story come last.

A landscape is pretty much the same, I start with a basic concept of what I want to accomplist and what resources I want to restrict and create the landscape - building the caslte (if there is one for the map) last. I then do the scripting and story.

Rarely do I have a story or victory objective in mind before I start a map. They are the last thing that I decide upon.

_______________________________________________________
2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?
_______________________________________________________
Everyone has to start somewhere. Know that a good map takes alot of time and attention to every little detail. You cant just blob some hills, paint some trees and throw in some troops onto a map and upload it and expect it to be a good map. Not that my maps are by any means a standard to look to, but I spend at least a month on a map before I am satisfied with it.

___________________________________________________
3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?
____________________________________________________
It is usually large (400x400)every time. I like lots of room.
__________________________________________________________
4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?
___________________________________________________________
For invasions, I usually start with a framework of when I want the major invasions to occur and ensure there is enough recovery time in between (4-6 game yrs) for the player to accomplish the other economic objectives and prepare for the "next wave" of enemy troops. I then fine tune it by play testing.

__________________________________________________________
6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)
__________________________________________________________
I like to ruined towers. I have used either round or square tower on just about every map I have created. I just like the look. Oft times it is incorporated as a place where the player can 'recycle' the fallen stone. I also like to see fountains when ever feisable, if done properly, they just set off the map.

__________________________________________________________
7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?
__________________________________________________________
No, I am single minded and task oriented. I like to finish a project I start and usually do not deviate from it until it is complete.

____________________________________________________________
8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?
___________________________________________________________
I really enjoy the editor because it is what breathes life into Stronghold and why I am even typing this response in this forum. I dont have any major problems with the editor, of course there are some wish items - but this isnt the thread to discuss such ideas.

____________________________________________________________
10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?
___________________________________________________________
I always playtest my scenarios before I ask or consider asking anyone else to take a look at them. There are only 2 or 3 people that I allow to play test my scenarios before I upload them - The Red Baron being my closest advisor.

__________________________________________________________
11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?
__________________________________________________________
When I am tired of tweaking it and second guessing myself if I did my best for that particular map.

__________________________________________________________
12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)
___________________________________________________________
No

__________________________________________________________
13. What makes a scenario fun to play?
__________________________________________________________
One that challenges your mind and forces you to think but is winable.

__________________________________________________________
14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?
__________________________________________________________
Novels that I have read or other games I have played.

__________________________________________________________
15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?
__________________________________________________________
Tough question. I strive for every scenario I create to achieve a 5.0 rating. I know that isnt possible because it is all in the eye of the beholder. Take for instance my Island Warfare map which received four or five 5.0 ratings and all it took was one teeney bopper to give it a 4.0 rating and a one paragraph response like, "this scenario was to hard" and that ruins your rating. Ratings are just that, someone elses opinion on what they think of your map. In my eyes, every one of my maps are a 5.0. I am an humble person and dont want this to sound boastful. Just a simple statement that I do my best on each map I make and when I am done, I can rest knowing I have done all that I can to make it the best I possible could.

_________________________________________________________
17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?
__________________________________________________________
A couple of hours per week.

_______________________________________________________
18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?
_______________________________________________________
One thing I try to do is post a mini-map and the scenario description in the "upcoming scenario" thread. That way it gives a little advance exposure and anyone that watches the forums gets a heads up on the map. As for the success of the scenario - hard to say. One that you think will do really well may only get a luke warm reception and then another that you dont think much about gets good ratings and a alot of downloads.

_____________________________________________________
19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?
_______________________________________________________
NO!

_________________________________________________________
20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?
_________________________________________________________
As long as people keep downloading them and I recieve favorable comments, I will continue to make maps. I enjoy designing scenarios and maps more than I do playing them.


I hope this has been helpful and informative. I appreciate the opportunity to share with others through this forum. I have gotten to know many people all across the world because of this game and Stronghold Heaven. I regularly correspond with people from 4 or 5 different countries as a result of SHH.

Semper Fidelis,

James
Duke of York

The Ztolk
Archer
(id: Ztolk)
posted 01-16-04 21:09 EST (US)     4 / 31       
1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

When I get the idea, first I think about it while pacing around, then I get into the game and start a new map file. I try and do the terrain, usually hills first then water and trees and whatnot, then I lay down the buildings, then the units, then I edit all the events and text and whatnot. This is over the course of several days or weeks. Then I play it and tweak it for a few weeks, then I get other people to play it and get their opinion, then I write a readme, zip it, and upload it.

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Experiment as much as possible.

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Usually I just go with 400*400, because space is nice. I had this one map that was purposely small.

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

Play it, see how easy or hard it is, tweak it. Use others' opinions as well.

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

Probably the pyramid, because I invented it and it was probably one of the first Stronghold eyecandies ever. If I don't count my own stuff, I'd say Ako's ship.


7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

No. I don't really design that much, anyway.

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I love the way the world is alive when you make maps, not in pause mode. This makes it like twice as fun. I don't like the limited events that come with the game.

10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

Both.

11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

If I can't think of anything else that needs to be done, I submit it.


12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

It's never really come up. I really don't know what I'd do.

13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

Good balance, and stuff is always happening.


14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

I've been out of the loop for a really long time. I'm not sure if I'm considered creative, but I think I used to be. I'd say experimentation is the key.

15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Ten 4.0 scenarios. It causes much more total happiness among the players.

16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

Single scenario.

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

If I have a good idea that I'm excited about, I work on it as much as possible.

18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

Uncertain. I just let people download it and hope that they enjoy it.

19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

Yes.

What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I look forward to having a finished product that matches my mental image before starting it. I started designing scenarios just to have some fun, and to put lots and lots of units against each other.

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

Go on the internet.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-17-04 03:37 EST (US)     5 / 31       
Hmmm...definitely need to think before I answer his.

Angel Jayhawk
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I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
NAT
Banned
posted 01-17-04 04:28 EST (US)     6 / 31       

Quote:

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

One of the longest bit for us is finding the idea. That happens usually in a maths lesson when you are extremely bored. Your mind wanders, and we eventually create a minmap for it. We put it roughly on the editor and then work from there. We do a lot of exchange of maps via e-mail if one person has a good idea (for instance, I sent Minas Tirith to adam because he knew what he was going to do with the keep - I had no idea!). We then work on the map until it is finished (can take ages, but can also not take very long). We try and get it playtested and then zip it up and advertise it!

Quote:

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Experement, find a playtester, enjoy making it and think of something original and what you would like to download. Do not just leave map design blank - this is very offputting.


Quote:

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Well, they are almost always 400*400, but on rare occasions they are 300*300 in simpler scenarios.

Quote:

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

Playtest it. Find a playtester. Make sure that you are constantly busy and doing stuff, never waiting for things to happen.

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5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

This varies enormously on the complexity and magnitude of the scenario. The Conquest I for example - although a simple map required us to make it completely and then scrap it completely because of an uncurable AI problem. As we both work on the scenarios, I would say that we can produce maps more quickly that others.


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6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

Ruins (not the ones that come with the editor), shrubs rocks and rivers. Things that make the map look more realistic, uneven and natural.


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7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

Often. At the moment we have about 5 on the go, it is a good way to get things done I think. When you are designing a series of maps, I don't think that this is uncommon. But other games?, no - I don't think I have ever done that


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8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I love the ability to build realistic landscape and I also love the hidden features such as palistone and lowered walls. I think the actual castle design is quite limited andI would also like to see methods of amking higher walls and cliffs.


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10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

Both, we both playtest it and try and sent it to someone to have a look at it.

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11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

Good question. I think this is because the map plays well and seems complete. You feel satisfied in playing it and enjoy it. Alos, when putting the zip file together, everything seemd in its right place.


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12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

Never. Playability is just too important. However, a good map designer tries to comprimise these two so it looks good and plays well (Helms deep redux for example)

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13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

One that fully engages you and causes you to panic. Balance is a real issue here. You have to be always franticly checking everything is right, and time has to be an issue.

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15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

An extremely good question. Frankly, I don't know the answer to it though

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16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

Frequently. We have several on the go with the Conquest series. In fact, technically we have all of the maps on the go because we have at least started all the maps at some point. We also tend to take breaks from big projects. Therefore, I would definitely say yes. (I am quite suprised how few people are the same)

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17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

Very irregularly. I suppose that this is natural when you consider that we are at boarding school. But in the holidays also, I would still say irregular.

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18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

I would say more uncertain usually. I suppose that during the course of designing a map, you are constantly looking for weaknesses. When the big day of putting it up comes, you just hope it has all payed off and is not just a waste of time.

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19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

We have uploaded maps which we knew where weaker. Osgiliath for example we uploaded because it was a bit of fun, but not a terribly good map. In a series, you often upload a map which you think is weaker.

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20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I am not really sure why I started designing. It was the first time that I have ever designed on a game. However, both Adam and I had some good ideas and thought that we would try and get a map up and see what people thoguht of it.

I remember the first reveiw we got from Sulis. It was so mamzing what detail someone had gone into the map. After that review I was really hooked. Getting a review is so satisfying.

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21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

not motivated! That will never happen

[This message has been edited by NAT (edited 01-18-2004 @ 04:43 PM).]

Sulis
HG Alumnus
posted 01-18-04 11:07 EST (US)     7 / 31       

Quote:

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

The process starts with an idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be a castle, or a sequence of events you would like to see. Sometimes a good story will be enough to allow the imagination to run riot. The landscape may be determined by the story, but more than likely by the image I have in my head, or how I would like the AI, or the event win criteria, to be achieved. Difficult to describe, but our Mapmaking 101 section will soon blossom to life with my thoughts on this. I don't stick to a schedule, I work on a map when I feel inspired, when I am free (busy life outside of Heavengames!) or when an idea springs to mind. More often than not, the final version of a map is a heavily edited one from the initial thought I had.

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2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

It could be to check out the maps available here. The vast majority have something worth investigating, and naturally some more than others. But the key to a good map for a new designer is to take time out before hitting the editor and work out what you want to happen in your scenario. Pen and paper will always be at my side as I work.

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3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Difficult to summarise. There are usually many factors that can decide how big you decide to build. I try to choose the smallest map size possible, rather than have a 400 x 400 map with 20% of it being used. I like to think big, generally speaking. The vast majority of my maps are 300 x 300 or even 400 x 400.

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4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

Playtesting. Lots of playtesting. Some people are very good at map design and seem to naturally achieve good balance. For me, it takes many hours, and I still don't get it right (in my eyes, anyway). I try to make the win conditions relevant to the story if possible, or at least try to have some relevance to where I want the scenario to go.

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5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

Again, this depends. Historical castle reconstructions take me hours and hours. Gathering information, pictures, snapshots, etc can cover a good 40% of the design time. I try to look for small details as well as grand, overhead images that are more popular.

Landscaping takes me a minimum of 20 hours' work. Sometimes more, depending on the scenario and what I want to achieve. Playtesting can again take 20-30 hours, trying different approaches, and attempting to explore 'what if' situations, given that everyone approaches and plays a map differently to how I do.

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6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

Lowered walls is my favourite eye candy trick, and what I use more than anything else. It's not that I want to recreate huge, intricate castles all the time, but I want to be able to add something a little special to the scenario where a pre-built castle is planned.

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7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

No. But then I only design for Stronghold (and Crusader) at the moment. My choice, that's all.

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8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

The 'look' of the game, from buildings to landscape, is something that appeals to me. It has real atmosphere. The ease of use is refreshing. I have concerns over the erratic behaviour of the AI and I would like to see more options for events as well as building objects. There's nothing in the game that I would say that I don't like, but there is room for improvement.

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10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters

More often than not, I playtest myself. I do occasionally ask people to look at my scenario, but I prefer to choose people who I know I can trust, and who have a good idea where I am coming from. I've been designing a while now, and I feel comfortable that I know what i'm doing

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11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

I don't. Given the chance, i'd tweak and amend until the map had completely changed from the original idea. Sometimes you just have to say 'enough is enough' and press that button. If it works, looks okay and covers the main ideas I want to include, then it's ready.

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12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

This is one hell of a question. I've recently submitted a map (Sylvandell chapter 5) that has bags of eye candy and I think that playability did suffer as a result. The AI were hell-bent on destroying everything, rather than doing what they were supposed to do... kill the defending armies, but I sat and thought about the scenario. I wanted a city to be completely under siege, and overrun with hordes of enemy units. In some way this worked out okay, and the reviews have been generous to this effect. If the eye candy makes the map glaringly unplayable, then no. I'd prefer to remodel.

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13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

A map that works, does what it is supposed to do, and invloves the player in some way. We're talking about correct use of events, or a scenario that means you don't just sit back and let it happen.

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14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

I wouldn't consider myself to be any different from any other designer. To regard myself as creative, or better than anyone else, is shallow and pretentious, two traits I genuinely deplore in people.

All I try to do is design something I think I would like and that would appeal to others too. Anyone can design what is regarded as a quality scenario is they take their time, plan carefully and have a genuine interest in what they are trying to achieve.

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15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Neither. Whilst i'm always open to reviews of my work (I do like to see if people think i've dome something they enjoy, or hate for that matter), I don't really pay too much attention to the scoring. Some people can be obsessed with obtaining perfect 5.0 scores. Some people will only submit what they feel to be the highest quality maps. To me, that's not what designing is about. Designing is about fun, sharing ideas and enjoying what you do.

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16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

Sometimes, depending on what I have in mind. My Sylvandell series was developed all at the same time, but only because I had such a strong idea of what I wanted to do and where I was going with the series. But aside from this, no. I try to concentrate on one map at a time. It's really what works best for the designer, for we are all different.

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17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

Irregularly. When I feel like it, I will design. If i'm busy with other things, I won't.

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18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

I suppose I feel somewhere in between. Obviously I think it's okay and should be well received. I hope others enjoy it too. Success to me isn't about the score or the review, but if people like what you've done, you usually find out one way or another, and not necessarily via a review.

I don't try to ensure the success of my work as such. I do what I like to do. If people hate it, then so be it. If people really enjoy it, then that pleases me. If it inspires others to do something themselves, then that's the best part. I prefer that relaxed way of working.

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19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

Yes, why not? I know that some of my stuff has weaknesses, and I try to do my best to combat this. I'm nowhere near the best map designer out there, and I don't try to be either. I don't think I design bad maps, some aspects are well received, others aren't. If I think the scenario in question has something to offer, it will be submitted.

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20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

Motivation? No idea. I have peaks and troughs. I find the editor addictive, and I can't stay away from it for too long. But i'm reaching a stage where I think i've done everything I wanted to do in the editor. So who know...

I started designing scenarios after finding Stronghold Heaven. I also played some maps by two designers here and was so impressed that I wanted to have a go myself. As the forums sprang to life and discussions ran riot over how to design for the game, I wanted to try it for myself.

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21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

I work on my garden, go for long bikerides, read, draw, paint, sketch... I don't let a lack of motivation bother me. There's always other things that need my attention!


The Bretwalda Chronicles: Northumbria|Anglia|Mercia
"There is material enough in a single flower for the ornament of a score of cathedrals" - John Ruskin
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-19-04 03:06 EST (US)     8 / 31       
Well, it took som epondering. Nice Q.s yoshi. I may actually decide to compile them and the answers and add them to the SD section. I think it will give people that want to start designing scenarios some good ideas.



Quote:

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?


I've got two paths that lead to me making a scenario. One's findign something nice to do with the editor and wanting it to be part of a sceanrio. The other more common one is me having a story idea which I then try to fit into a scenario.
I then sort of start fiddling with the map, which may cause part of the story line to be changed. After that I get it tested a few times (and make necessary changes) before I upload it.
I work when I feel like it, not on any schedule.

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2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?


Just play around with the map editor for a few days (weeks?) to see what you can do with it.
I'll add a number two advice, though: get it tested before you upload.

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3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?


Based on how much space I need in my mind. Smaller maps mostly work for single castle missions, however, as soon as I have two castles/villages on a map, I'll use a bigger map.

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4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?


I mostly go for maps with a strong economic challenge. Then add invasions and such to keep a player from finishing too easily. I normally stop these after a while so one can finish the eco goals in peace if one's not too good at doing both at the same time

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5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)


Several weeks to a month or two/three. Depends a bit on how well the balancing works.



Quote:

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)


Water (and the landscape around it), because it adds life to a map

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7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?


I may start on another map before one's finished, but that's more the sketch stage.

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8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?


I like it's ease of use.
I miss the option to put in a less than clause in events most.

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10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?


The test initial runs I do myself, then I use playtesters to make sure I haven't missed anything.

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11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?


When my playtesters grudgingly admit it can be done



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12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)


Depends on how bad the playability suffers.

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13. What makes a scenario fun to play?


Various things happening at once, and the satisfaction that yes, you managed to finish it (but it should not be too hard). I prefer games that take me 2-3 attempts to win.

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14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?


Assuming I am, I'd say it's reading a lot, which gives me scenario ideas, and being in love with landscapes (painting, photography, Terragen) which makes the terrains look real.

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15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?


Four's still pretty good and suggests people enjoyed it.
Let's change the question to: Which one is better, designing ten badly scenarios or one good scenario?
In that case, I definitely chose one good scenario.

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16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?


Mostly one at a time (see Q7)



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17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?


Irregularly.

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18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?


Having it well tested.

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19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?


I might, if I felt I enjoyed making it enough to share.

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20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?


Feedback from people enjoying my scenarios.
Because I liked the editor.

Quote:

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?


Something else

Angel Jayhawk
Eyrie • Caesar 4 Heaven • Children of the Nile Heaven • Stronghold Heaven • Caesar 3 Heaven • Emperor Heaven • Pharaoh Heaven • Zeus Heaven • My Deviations
Support your local Heaven • My Recommendations • EXCO • HALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-20-04 10:03 EST (US)     9 / 31       
What do you think?

Angel Jayhawk
Eyrie • Caesar 4 Heaven • Children of the Nile Heaven • Stronghold Heaven • Caesar 3 Heaven • Emperor Heaven • Pharaoh Heaven • Zeus Heaven • My Deviations
Support your local Heaven • My Recommendations • EXCO • HALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Sulis
HG Alumnus
posted 01-20-04 10:28 EST (US)     10 / 31       
Nice feature. The questions were excellent and it's nice to see it promoted as a feature. A great reference point for designers new and old

The Bretwalda Chronicles: Northumbria|Anglia|Mercia
"There is material enough in a single flower for the ornament of a score of cathedrals" - John Ruskin
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-20-04 12:46 EST (US)     11 / 31       
I feel it will help in making people think more about designing scenarios, and possibly help others make the step to doing so.

Angel Jayhawk
Eyrie • Caesar 4 Heaven • Children of the Nile Heaven • Stronghold Heaven • Caesar 3 Heaven • Emperor Heaven • Pharaoh Heaven • Zeus Heaven • My Deviations
Support your local Heaven • My Recommendations • EXCO • HALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
NAT
Banned
posted 01-20-04 16:14 EST (US)     12 / 31       
Nice!
NAT
Banned
posted 01-21-04 05:35 EST (US)     13 / 31       
I think a followup of a reviewing questionnaire is in order!
Supersephiroth
Archer
posted 11-21-04 04:27 EST (US)     14 / 31       
Heres mine

1.Normally i just think up a story idea whilst watching a film/tv go play stronghold use my idea add a good area design and submit it.I uselly play stronghold in the afternoon around 1:00 2:00.
2.Dont rush your map,good people never rush there map.Maps can take weeks even months to reach full playbilty.
3.Depends what the story is or what type of the scenario your going to make.
4.A good scenario MUST have events if possible to add a little challenge to the scenario.Try to give the player time to build up before your scripted invasion comes (Some scenarios i have seen have had invasions right at the start!)
5.Depends on size and scenario.Making a good map may take weeks even months to fill in every area of the map (Ground Grafic ,scriped events, scenary eye candy ect).
6.Wall hieght, gives you more options when making your castle or whatever else your need higher/lower walls.Its used for most eye candys as well.
7.Nope i used to play roller coaster tycoon and make maps for that but not now.
8.Scenary options,so many options and the capabilty to make eye candy (Not ment able to but you can).
9.Both, its better to see other people`s view on your map not just yourself.
10.When i cant see any more inprovement to the map.
11.Playbilty.Whats the point of haveing a good looking map when you cant play it?
12.Scenary,events challenge every thing!
13.Fill in your map.Dont spend ages on one area and all the rest just done quick try to spend a lot of time making sure there are no chunks of areas not finished.
14.Quality definitly.
15.I make one map at a time so it can be at its full.
16.Normally try to work on them every day.
17.I feel to ensure of its success it needs to be play tested and edited a lot of times to reach its full.
18.I wouldent know what rating my map would be before sending it so i try my best to make it as good as possible.
19.Watching films it sparks off this feeling to play stronghold.
20.Watch a film it normally gets me in the mood.


Supersephiroth
Add me on msn @ super_sephiroth@hotmail.com
One winged angel
Jax
HG Monument
(id: Jax Omen)
posted 11-21-04 16:54 EST (US)     15 / 31       
This is an old thread...

Oh well, here I go

Quote:

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

I'll think up an idea, often loosely tied in with a book or another game. I'll try to make a rough outline of the map, and make tests to see if the idea will work. About 50% either don't work, or are unfeasable to create, so never get off the ground (thats the purpose of the tests). It normally takes between 1 week - 1 month, depending on the content and how often I work on it.

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2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Like SuperSephiroth said, take time, a lot of time. And make sure you test your map. The amount of maps I've downloaded that either are impossible to win, or so easy even a monkey could complete them, is unbelievable.

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3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Just about always 400x400. I find anything smaller to be unworkable for my style of map, but I have cursed myself numerous times for having to spend a long, long time filling a map.

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4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I make the map, then put rough invasions/goals in. I test it, then make alteratons. I test it again. A test normally consists of 2 or 3 goes, to see if it is either unbeatable or too easy (testing more often is strange, as no-one will play it that often). If the scenario requires it, i.e. a load of engineers are hanging around at the end of the scenario, I will alter the scripting accordingly.

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6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)


I have too say my favourite eye candy is ruined castles. I have used them in most of my maps, with varying degrees of success and complexity. They wither look good, or damn right incredible. Their is a lot of styles (from broken walls to stylised ruined buildings using stairs), and as such a lot of scope for me to use.


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8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I like the simplicity of it, and the challenge of creating something new. Anyone can use it, with patience. I also like the lack of (complex) triggers, as a lot of maps in other heavens are not only rushed, but built around the idea that 10000 swordsmen arriving half way through mke the map good.

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10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

Both. You know your scenario best, and can easily and quiickly tweak it, unlike with playtesters. However, someone elses opinion about your work is infinetely better than your own.

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11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

Usually it is almost perfect before I submit it before playtest, that just allows me to iron out any wrinkles. I usually submit it when I have made sure the whole thing looks good, watched the level through without touching anything to check events, and written a story.

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12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

No. Apart from the fact eye candy takes ages to make, it can look poor if not done properly, and out of place. No map should ride on its eye-candy.

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13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

A scenario should always be moving. Be it economic or fighting, you don't want to be sat watching the enemy be mown down, or your granary filling. Examples of this are things like constantly retreating your archers. This improves replayability, as you strive to improve your technique.

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14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

Most of my maps got a 4 for creativity, and one 5. I look at other maps, and try not to replicate them. I look for something rare in other maps, and include that in my design. My most creative map is Argyn Moor, were you start of outside your keep, with your lord surounded by enemies.

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15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Although none of mine recieved 5, I would say the latter is definately best. To use old maps as an example, I play Sylvandell cptr 5 way more often than any of my other maps, even 10 4+s combined.

Quote:


16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

Actually, right now, I am doing, although I try not too, as it usually ends up with a bunch of lower quality scenarios.

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

I try to keep it regular, when i'm creating, although the time between two maps is somewhat irredular.

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18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

I'm usually confident of it getting a score I'm happy with, and fairly cofident it will be better than my last. I build on reviewers comments, and look at the best maps out there to ensure mine are on par.

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19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

Well, I didn't use too, like with my first map (although it did.) As I progress as a Map Maker I now try to achieve higher scores, and this means striving for a "high" score.

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20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

Actually, it was Bismuth who got me designing after my first. His review was so positive I made another. And then another. And now I'm making a campaign, I can't stop! (thanks Bis!)

Quote:

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

I don't make them. Unfortunatly a number of scenarios have been dropped as I couldn't be bothered, although this is rare. Seeing a completed map gives you a sense of achievement. As does a positive review.


house won this
Jax
HG Monument
(id: Jax Omen)
posted 02-10-05 04:52 EST (US)     16 / 31       
Just reviving the thread for anyone who wants to answer it.

house won this
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 02-10-05 22:51 EST (US)     17 / 31       



Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

I am not interested in reproducing a castle that exists, thought I have played some maps inspirated by real castles, and that I might make one one day. I do not use any historical battle or situation facts either. I imagine all.
If the map is to show a castle already built, I start by the castle. If from scratch... no choice but landscape... The ressources are made available on the map in function of the results I wanna get in the gameplay. The already built castles only have the walls and granary/armoury, I prefer to leave it to the player to run its economy to survive...

What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Play other's maps to have an idea of what to do or not do. Keep in mind to submit maps of quality in terms of landscaping, it does a lot in the pleasure of playing. Try to make a realistic castle. Play the maps you have created, do not hesitate to do it several times before to submit it to make sure of the gameplay until the end of the game. You may have to re-do some parts of the landscape or castle because you are not happy with it. Be patient.

How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

I much prefer large maps, but depending of the type of playing I want to end up with or from the size of the castle on it, I sometimes choose a smaller one. I consider the smallest ones very challenging in term of balance & playability.

How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I'm not a fan of siege maps, so the scenario is related to the type of castle on the map - already built or from scratch - and from there, to its relation with the landscaping, considering both economical and military aspects.

How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

I can create a full map & scenario in a few hours. I can also make it over several weeks or months...
To start, I know the main lines about what I want, and after the map is done, with the castle and almost all of the final landscaping done (I will modify and finalise it after regarding how it interacts with the playability as both are related...) I play the map with the main events I want, posted at the period of time I want it to happen; and tweak it later, adjusting the events in function of if it happens too early or too late, too close one another, too often...
So if the goals or time left before last battle to reach are far away it takes more time to adjust as the map needs to be played to its end to make sure everything works fine.
I always submit my maps so it can be played on Very hard as well... So I must playtest it on very hard to make sure it can be won... Until I win... It might take a while before to find the good strategy. I will not post a map that I know can't be beat on very hard, it's damageable to the reputation of a knight, and among it, to its honour...

What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

My favorite eye candy is the castle itself... Regarding eye candies I use, I stick to the natural ones, huge rocs is the one I prefer to display and on another hand I rarely use water on my maps.

Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

Stronghold only. I never made a scenario map for crusader althought I adore the skirmish mode, I made some to play skirmish mode only.

What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

The only thing I can think of is not to be able to use some events used in the campaign directly from the editor. Must be a copied map.

Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

I test it myself several times. After the testing period, I can find myself having played the map a dozen of times or more...
To have to wait several days to know the results cuts my appetite. I playtest it and when I feel that's it seasoned to my taste, I serve it.

How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

When I win it several times, especially if it is touch and go to make it. This point is very debatable as skill levels and strategies are very different from one another...
I have happened to download map that had obviously never been played for testing before to be posted...

If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

Playability first. I have commited the sacrilθge to erase eye candies while playing to improve playability on some maps I downloaded.

What makes a scenario fun to play?

Many aspects. All in general and everything in particular...
I give you the recipe:

Unroll a map, the size depending of how many guests you expect on it.

Pour a good portion of nice landscaping on it; season with lots of details.

For a better cooking , add some nice size invasions, several times if needed - according to your taste - and drop different events to alterate the sweetness.

Make sure it doesn't stick during gameplay or it will come out burnt.

Eat while it's hot.

A map can be considered fun to play if you feel like playing it again. If not, what's the fun?

If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

My artist side.

Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Questing the Grββl?

That people enjoy your maps. That's what is better.

Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

If I am bored on one, I put it aside and start another one. I will come back to it later...

Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

I can work on one like crazy to make it, or leave it for month.

After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

A minimap on the description page is a must to who wants to make its scenario attractive. I think it ensures the success of it a lot. So, that's what I do.
Simply because you can have an idea of what it is about. Any additional pictures and illustrations are a multiplicator of it...

Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

I do not submit scenarii with the idea of being rated at all, only with the idea of sharing some fun. If it's rated, no matter what the rate, it's fine. If not, it's fine too. I try to submit scenarii I think well plotted.

What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

Other's pleasure is what motivates me. They share, so do I. Maybe what got me to start was to show my skills with the fun tool that is the editor.

What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

I have a life too.


[This message has been edited by Duc de Noisiel (edited 12-06-2005 @ 02:40 PM).]

Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 02-10-05 23:01 EST (US)     18 / 31       

Quoted from Lord Yoshi:

I didn't answer each question, because I couldn't think of good answers for all of the questions.

Is it about time? A year later?
Humm?


Sparrow's extreme challenges : Do you dare take it?
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 02-10-05 23:14 EST (US)     19 / 31       

Quoted from Jax Omen:

Just reviving the thread for anyone who wants to answer it.

Excellent idea.

Indeed.


Sparrow's extreme challenges : Do you dare take it?
lollard97367
Archer
posted 09-27-05 03:39 EST (US)     20 / 31       
1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

A) Get inspiration - look at old maps, goto online databases of castles, visit state parks and look at how the foot traffic works and how land shapes itself with erosion and weather. When looking at a river, I would imagine trying to recreate the river on the map editor and then picture the important parts BEFORE sitting down at the computer. I find that observing nature and studying castles that actually have been sieged and are still standing, are good sources (if the castle is still there, that means it has good strategic design and that translates well on the game). This will make your maps more realistic.

B) Think of A Basic Idea or Scenario- This can change and doesnt really have to be a final draft of idea at all. But you need a basic one in your head before you start. Sometimes I will type out a rough draft. Peoples creative processes work differently: my brother will write down ideas when he wakes up for instance. If you are recreating a historical castle, then this part isnt too hard. Thinking up a valid story and plot is! The excellent maps that stand out for years are the ones with a good story and/or an amazing flow of events. Dont let your map become another just kill the enemy map. Tactics (the fighting part) and Strategy (the planning part) should be focussed on. If you are having a problem thinking up something - watch a movie or read a medieval book. That will give you an idea.

C) Get The Map Size Right - This is important because once you pick your scenario or map size, you CANNOT change it as far as I know. Rough sketch your basic layouts with where the enemy will be starting, resources roughly drawn in, and high ground areas. If you dont have a real picture in your head before you start and just start doodling on the map, it will look like someone didnt plan it but tried to cram everything in at the last second.

D) Take Your Time - This part I really mean, because, if you want to get your map noticed, you need to put forth the effort. I enjoy making the maps I make and I put them on here only after I'm done making them the way I like them. At first I wanted to get my map on there ASAP, as soon as I got the starting money right - I would post it. But believe me, if you are still getting the starting gold right, then you arent half finished. Some people say they make maps in an afternoon. Those maps also get 2.2s and 2.8s. To get a 5 (and thats what I think we all want), takes a really, really good idea or just time and effort. You will find that the recognition comes at the end, after long hours of work and trial and error, but you should only design maps if you ENJOY the actual process. If you are looking for applause or instant feedback, then try gamespy where you play and share maps with other designers in a live multiplayer setting.

E) Play The Map One Last Time - Ive been stuck on this step for days once. Because I would go back and make a little change, and then have to start the final playing of the map again. And continually making changes (it helps to
take a break from a map too, and come back and look at it even days later) can mess up a map just enough to make the map unplayable or not what you wanted to represent.

F) Write the Story - Top maps need top stories and background. Copying out of the dictionary can be clearly seen and no one will download your map if they think you are a fraud.

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

I havent read what everyone else has said to answer this question, but I wont go over the obvious stuff like keep trying, blah, blah. I will say that making maps is fun and you will get alot of fun out of the actual creation process and might even get some recongition by winning contests. Check out the 2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition going on now.

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Map size is the big question much of the time. You dont want to have too little land to design your masterpiece (or dumpsterpiece), so I always pick one size more than I would normally think I would need. The right map size is important because you cant change it. Too little is cramped, and too much is too much open space. I also decide the size by looking at what I want to build on it. If I am just building in one concentrated area (castle siege, for example) then you dont need a 400x400.


4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I like how the main site words it:

"Most perfectly balanced scenarios should not be able to be completed without the player losing a few times. If a player is able to complete the entire scenario the first time, the scenario is probably too easy. On the other hand, a player should not need to reload 15 times to get by a certain part of a scenario. That is frustrating and the scenario is probably way too difficult. The ideal scenario balance happens when a player gets stuck, but he knows that it's possible to complete the objective if only he did something a little differently. A player should not win by luck; the scenario should be constructed so that a player can learn from mistakes and use his skill to complete the objective." - Quoted from the Stronghold Review Guide.

I want people who play my maps to have a challenge. So I make it tough, so the medium-advanced player would have a good game. I stick to the main ideas above.


5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

This varies. I can spend alot of time on a map - but mostly between one day and two weeks. Thats not two weeks on the computer, I use pencil and paper, books, movies, and even personal experiences. I lived in Europe three years and I draw on the castles there for alot of my work.


6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

I have to say that I try to work in some water in all my maps. You can do alot with it: a simple moat, big ocean separating continents, a mysterious lake, secluded cove, or a wide formidable river. Water is precious, and Crusader maps are the perfect platform to illustrate this in the desert.


7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

I have about three maps that I am usually working on at one time. One in basic idea form, one as a rough draft map, and one getting ready for posting. Sometimes less, but I always have one going.

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

Some things I like: Good Interface and Graphics and easy building and troop selection.

Some things I don't like: No basic map templates (all ocean for instance), learning the height tools takes time, cant access the game menu in the map editor (just takes you back to the main screen), and we need to get a wide variety of interesting music to play on the map maker screen.


10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

I have one other person who tests the maps I submit. I always give the maps one final test (at least I try to). I work with people who want me to test their maps. Email me at: jamesgregoire@charter.net


11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

Once my basic goals I set forth in my basic plan are achieved, then I put the finishing touches on it and then its ready for testing. After testing, I do the write up.


12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

Thats a no. I prefer functionality over looks.


13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

I think people play video games because its a way to escape from every day life. If a mapmaker can teleport me into their little world for a couple of hours, then its fun.


14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

I have 20 years of map making experience from playing Dungeons and Dragons. Alot of my inspiration comes from D&D and other games like Boot Hill, Gamma World, and Magic the Gathering. I like Topographical Hobbyist.


15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

I would say that if you make a map and it gets a 5.0, then someone really likes it. One person. Well thats fine, but as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. So that one map that is a 5 for one person (or hypothetically alot of people give it a five), that same map could be a 3 in someone else's eyes So you have only one chance for success. Making ten maps that all get a 4.0 is clearly more effort but has the greater chance of being "better" because more people can enjoy more of your work, therefore achieving a "unposted 5". A "unposted five" is a imaginary term I use to represent a person who really loved a map, but wont post a review because they dont know how or feel embarrassed that they download someones work and arent polite enough leave thank-yous about playing it.


16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

Three at a time is my limit.


17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

I would say regularly because I always have one going in some form. Even if I am not at the computer, I will note down ideas for maps. If I go on vacation or other absences I dont work on maps.


18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

You can judge by the number of downloads, and if it gets a rating or comment. If there are alot of downloads, the author is doing something right (or just has alot of friends!). I always say: Please Rate. But no one usually bothers to even say "thanks for the cool map". So you have to keep working on maps, and some will get comments and ratings and some wont. Thats just the way it is here.


19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

I have done this to check to see if people are actually playing the maps I send in. I got about 8 comments saying I could do better. HELL AWAITS is the map in Crusader Downloads.


20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I would like to see more updates like computer AIs and other map making packages. Some people dont have the computers to run Stronghold 2, and therefore can run anything with advanced graphics. I get movtivated by new material. I started designing maps to play on gamespy.


21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

Play paintball and kick it at the beach. Oh yeah, and I play other people's maps and rate them all the time. 70+ ratings already.

Lollard







[This message has been edited by lollard97367 (edited 09-27-2005 @ 04:11 AM).]

Dpminatr
Archer
posted 11-18-05 21:33 EST (US)     21 / 31       
1. Too long
2. Don't copy me!!!! If you copy me, you'll be ruined.
3. I just pick one
4. I throw this here and that there
5. My first one was less than half an hour. 'Working' on #2
6. Fountains I guess. Or maybe ships. I don't know
7. Impossible if you have one game to design scenarios in
8. Needs different terrain height options and to be able to place multiple trees per click. Huge brush size=large part of a forest. The rest is good
10. I learned from my mistake and actually have my maps tested now. By others of course
11. When the testers all think it's good
12. Heck no!!!
13. A challenge
14. Nothing
15. Ten 4.0s. You'll be recognised better. People could think the one 5.0 was just lucky, but 10 4.0s show that you're good
16. I mess around and sometimes come back to the map I work on.
17. Read and find out
18. Uncertain and sometimes upgrade
19. I already did
20. Just messing around
21. Kick AI ***

"If your rich uncle bought a new house and you had to help take the wheels off, you might be a redneck." -Jeff Foxworthy
"There was this one girl I was seein' for a few weeks, 'till someone took the binoculars outta my truck." -Larry the Cable Guy
Darkslave Master
Archer
posted 01-08-06 13:47 EST (US)     22 / 31       
Hey I'm still quite new here (designing maps for longer though) but I'll answer these anyway


1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

No shedule, I just work on it whenever I feel like, mostly I start with a mountain in a corner and slowly expanding that with rivers and everything, after that I start to write up the story and with it, creating scenario, when my eye falls on something specific like a message in the scenario-editer and I want it in, I'll re-write my story and scenario partially making it as good as possible.


2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?
Never-ever place more than 6 events with meaning (not lone messages but good-bad events/invasion etc.)in a year and don't make solid globs of iron and stone in your map, read the editor 101!


3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?
I mostly start with 200-200 and resize when my space is to small or big according to gameplay and building-placement.


4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I just design a scenario so packed that evry month happens something and next scoop alot out and keep testing after each meaningly change (invasion size change etc.)


5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

Depends on how much motivationa and spare-time I have, from 3-4 days to 3 months.

------

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

At the moment lowered wals-they are just so flexible and can be placed almos anywhere, i'm also expirimenting with crenullated wall eye cande, bushes in coulor formation are also common in maps I create (long not all maps are uploaded here)


7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

Sometimes I hav one scenario stuck somewhere and just start anathor.


8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

Like: Becouse of everything
Dislike: sometimes you are busy with lowering walls and something goes wrong and you can start all over, trees spread in the editor wich truly stinks and units walk a small piece once put on the ground (can be prevented by quickly selecting them after placement.


10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

Test myself


11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

Not really, I look at revieuws of maps wich score low and see if my map has or doesn't has the things that made them bad.


------

12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

No, i'm not an eye candy maniack, I only add eye candy in free builds and around pieces of the castle or nature where units never come.


13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

Having to struggle for your castle (not the whole while but just 1 or 2 invasions wich break your wall and can be stopped only just infront of the keep)


14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

Eh...no comment, well becouse of the round castle design my new map Unnamed Capital City it scored good


15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Ten 4.0 designs, you are seen as a better designer, not as a designer who has one lucky good map


16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

I concentrate on one map at a time

------

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

Eh when I have some spare time...that's irregularly


18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

It's gamble work when I submit


19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

When I was certain...no I would improve it firstly

20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I started designing for fun out of the maps that come with the game, when i found this site, to make athor people happy with a nice scenario


21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

Checking if I have some usefull comments on this site which could get me back to work or just do something else and see how it's like tomorrow

Thanks for reading (well you're ought to have read it when you read this so you've read it...ok enough about reading I just want to thank you for reading this becouse you readed it)Phew...
Done
DS_M

Jasper Tudor
Archer
posted 01-08-06 15:10 EST (US)     23 / 31       
Well, I guess I could answer these questions as well...


1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

Well, I start with the very idea. I have quite a good imagination, and if I just feel like designing and don't have any ideas, I'll try to find a nice historic castle to either recreate or use as inspiration (most great castles are in Wales IMO, so that's where I get the most inspiration from). Then I draw a raw sketch of the map using pen and paper, I determine how big the map'll have to be, decide upon a few vital things about playability (a cede? crossbows allowed? place-your-own-keep? etc. etc.) and then go into the editor and start designing, basically. From there on, my fantasy takes control and the very map design goes off rather easily (although it takes TIME)...After that, it's time for the pure pain of playtesting. I hate to playtest my own maps, but it is of course necessary. Once I feel that I'm done with that, I write the story and instructions. Then I let the map rest for a few days, and if I can't find anything that I'd like to improve, I'll release the map.

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Don't know if I should be giving advices to others, as I'm not very talented myself, but I value playbility and map design above all else, and a bad landscape modelling destroys all game expereinces, so spend time on the landscape, playtest your maps well and bla bla bla bla...

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

Whatever that fits. I like to use all map sizes, though I, as most other designers, fancy the bigger ones (300x300) and 400x400. 160x160 is good for making, small, hectic scenarios. The size I use the least is 200x200 anyway.

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I try to make the map completeable at Normal. That means completeable to ME, which is quite easy, so that better players can experience the map at Hard or Very Hard. I don't like the idea of the scripting being specialized for Normal, and I don't see the point in designing impossible maps. I'm into easy fights =P
Anyway, I prefer invasions vefore eco-goals, so I mainly put focus at the warfare (not always, but that is what I prefer to do). I maninly throw in a few bad events between the invasions and some victory conditions, and then I playtest my way until I find the right balance (which takes many attempts and alterations).

5. How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this in question #1)

Depends...My older maps (aka two-three weeks old) took quite a short time creating, and thus, they weren't very good. I try to spend as much time possible at my maps, and I try to get a little map designing into every day. Small, 160x160 scenarios can take about three days to create, while the bigger maps can take between two and six weeks.

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

I don't like eye-candy, I think it only adds surrealism and uglyness to the map. Natural eye-candy is a favourite of mine though. Ruins...ruins are clearly my favourite.

7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

I only design for SH1, and I only spend my time at one map at a time.

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I like pretty much everything except the limited height-levels and the AI. Also, more advanced scripting would be nice.

10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?

I do playtest them myself, but as I much prefer designing to playing, I'm not a very good judge. So after my own playtesting I tend to ask others to help me out.

11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

As I've said before: when it has gone a few days, and I can't figure out any way that I'd like to improve the map.

12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

Don't know actually, it depends. But in general, I'd say no. Playbility is more important than some stupid map detail. The important thing is that the entire map looks good.

13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

Fighting Lots of fighting. And balance. A map must, IMO, be completeable without frustration. It must be a challenge, but nothing that pushes you over your limits.

14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

My wicked mind...

15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

One 5.0 scenario. I think quality beats quantity at this point. Of course, I appreciate designers who can deliver a good 4.0 map a week, it's good to see that someone enjoys designing so much. But it's nice to, every now and then, encouter a real 5.0 map.

16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

I used to...Don't do that anymore. A map gets so much better if you spend your entire concentration on it. On the other hand, this causes me problems, since when I'm in the middle of a boring playtesting, I tend to start planning about the map design for the forthcoming map, and lose concentration.

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

I'd say regularly. I don't have like certain hours a day that are reserved for map designing, but I try to design a little every day. Sometimes it goes a few days, or even a week, when I don't design. Mainly because I'm stuck on somebodys map...

18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

I'm always uncertain about the reaction and response on the map. The only way to really make sure your map is good is spending time on it I guess.

19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

I've never been sure that any of my maps would even score 4.0.

20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I started 'cause I saw some other great maps here from SHH, and then I wanted to have a go. What keeps me motivated is that it is really fun.

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

Something else? If we're talking about Stronghold, I play other peoples maps. But there's plenty of other things do than play Stronghold.


Turned out to be a quite long reply, hope anyone has the motivation to read it all...


Sand is overrated. It's just tiny little rocks.

Check out my latest map, Dear Brother
Lord Ako
Archer
posted 01-13-06 20:11 EST (US)     24 / 31       
I have some time to kill so a I can finally answer these questions.

1. Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the exact tasks for every day?

First of all, I don't use any kind of schedule, I wouldn't even know how on earth I could plan everything in advance as these things tend to never go as you plan them.

When I am actively designing I am usually walking around with multiple ideas for future maps in my head. Most of history interests me so I become easily fascinated with a period or structure.
The process of making a map thus always starts with a theme that can be describe in one word. For instance: Vikings, meteorcrater or barbarians.

At this point I will start to do a lot of research about this theme, using google. I will add links to websites in my favourites and save pictures to a special folder for this map. If I can't find what I'm looking for I go to the library to get a book or two. During this research period I also write down loads of ideas I get for any part of the map in my official 'Stronghold blocnote' and make little sketches, mostly of how I plan the minimap to look.

After I have collected enough information and have enough ideas I open up the editor and stare at the vast green emptyness of the map. Then, when I have gotten myself together, I start making the general layout of the map. I use crude tools like the biggest brush size.
I should note that I usually work on 400x400 maps, mostly on one of Jalis' colour template maps with added cede events and apple trees.
I design the landscape first, refining it untill it looks good, but not great. Also adding trees. At this point I start adding in unnatural elements like castles and eye candy features. The exception to this rule is when I need a lot of space around an eyecandy to be able to build it.

Ocassionally I will run gameplay tests during this fase to see if the AI will work with what I have created.
I also save often and sometimes make another map to test ideas and fiddle around.
Sometimes during this, or even a later fase, it becomes clear to me that the map has to be discarded. This might be because the AI will not work with it, because I am not happy with a major piece of eyecandy or landscaping, or because I lose interest in the map.
For instance, my maps 'The Meteor Crater' and 'Glendalough Abbey' have had an earlier version.
It also happens that the solution can be less drastic. In my upcoming map 'The Viking Raid II' I have deleted a castle and two wooden ships and re-designed large patches of landscaping and was then able to continue with it.

After I have added the eye-candy and castles or settlements I start to finish the landscape, making sure that it looks good everywhere on the map and that the map has the right 'feel'. Something that is crucial in my opinion. During this fase I will also place the resources such as iron, stone and pitch. I always try to do this in a natural looking way, if the time period or location of the map requires specific placement, I will do so.

After I am completely satisfied with the look of everything in the map I will begin adding the script.
I usually also post a thread about the map at both Stronghold sites at this point, to show some pictures and give some general information about the project.
Most of the time the scripting will be for an invasion scenario with economic goals and events. I try to space the events so that there are no boring periods and no periods with too much going on. I now start playtesting the map at hard. The first couple of tries usually reveal big flaws in the scenario, I then quit playing, remedy this and try again. After the big flaws have been removed I will play through the map about 10 times, refining and finetuning the scenario. I write down everything that can be improved during playing and then use these notes to fix it. After I think the scenario is ready I send the map to one or more playtesters.

During the few days or week or so they are playtesting I start working on the strory and the rest of the readme file. Sometimes I will already have a clear picture of what the story will be about and how I will write it, sometimes not at all. Either way, I try to come up with an original and well written story. To this I add some historical information if the map is about a historical period or object. I also add some tips and notes that explain how to best tackle the map, as well as clear up anything in the map or scenario that might be confusing or strange. Recently, I have also started adding an epilogue to the readme.
Now the feedback from my playtester(s) comes in and I will make final changes to the map or scenario if neccesary.

Thats it, the map is now ready for submission!

2. What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario designer?

Don't try to come up with everything yourself. What I mean by this is that it is much easier to make a good map based on research than one 'off the top of your head.' Most people like realistic looking maps and are history enthusiasts so why not use that to your advantage?
But I mean something else as well by this. There are loads of fantastic maps available nowadays and tons of information about every aspect of the editor and of designing maps in general. Both here and at stronghold-knights. So play some maps from the 'best of' list and read the available info before you get started.

3. How do you decide the map size of your scenario?

I try to always use 400x400 maps. This is because it is my experience that I usually need the space. Infact, 'Ancient Oak' is the only map I have made in 2/3 years that was smaller, and there was a specific reson for this. The map started out as a 400x400 with a Roman wall on the map where the invasions came from. This proved unworkable with the AI and I had to start the map over. As there were now no Romans on the map, there was no need for the extra space.

4. How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and victory conditions)?

I usually try to have a little bit of everything. Some invasions, some bad events, some good events and a spread of victory conditions that generally include some economic goals. I have already answered the rest of this in my answer to question 1.

5. How long does it take you to design a scenario?

The longer I've been designing, the longer this is starting to take me because unfortunately I've become a bit of a perfecionist. At first maybe 20-40 hours, but I estimate my last map took me about 150 hours.
Spent in this order:
20 research
80 map
25 scenario and playtesting
25 story and rest of the readme file

6. What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)

My favourite eye-candy is any eye-candy that is made from flattened wood and palistone. I like how they look and I like that you can make custom stuff with them like ships and buildings.
As far as natural eye-candy is concerned I love snow and ice. I hope I can someday move to Canada!

7. Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same time?

Stronghold and Crusader are the only games I have ever designed for. Although I do have Stronghold 2 and perhaps will someday switch to that. I would also like to try and design maps for games like Neverwinter Nights 2. I do not think I could work on multiple games simultanuously, as I'm more of the obsessive type.

8. What do you like and what do you don't like about the SH editor?

I like that even a lobotomized monkey can use it. I have no programming skills but it is perfectly understandable. I also that it is easy to customize your map, what I mean is that I hate games with pre build sections and clusters of tiles.
What makes me cry is that you can't set a condition to an invasion, not a map goes by that I miss this.
It would also be nice to be able to set a standard height, like '40 clicks' instead of just mid and high plain and max height.
I also find it a pity that some terrain can only be place at certain heights. This makes it impossible to create the green hills of Ireland for instance.

10. Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for playtesters?
11. How do you know your scenario is ready to be submitted?

As I said, I playtest first, then when I wouldn't know what to improve sent it to others. When I have their feedback and made last improvements and feel the map is ready I submit it.

12. If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)

That would depend on how much worse the playability would get. If the map would still be fun to play I would probably add it.

13. What makes a scenario fun to play?

For me this depends on a couple of things. I am a person that likes to be sucked into a specific setting or period. This usually starts right at the download page. If like the minimap and/or story I download the map. Then if the readme is also good, or the minimap just lloked too spectacular to pass I will play it.
If the actual scenario is fun to play depends mainly on how well balance it is I think. I like a good challenge and am dissapointed when I win on my first or second try. Overall the map should feel like a good package, all it's individual components should enhance and work with the others.

14. If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the secret behind your imagination and creativity?

Erh.. not sure what you mean? I can tell you that I grew up in a boring village with not much to do and with religious parents so combine that and perhaps that's what triggered my creativity and imagination?

15. Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0 scenario (quantity vs. quality)?

Lol, that should be clear by now, I'd say the latter.

16. Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a time?

I used to always work on one but since my recent return I have had 3 different projects that I'm workin on all the time. Mostly because I have now started to cooperate with other designers in joint projects like Dougleass's Rome community map.

17. Do you work on your scenarios regularly or irregularly?

When I design I design whenever I can, this means I put all my spare time in it, as long as it doesn't interfere with friends and family.
But sometimes I lose interest in designing or am a bit exhausted by it and will quit for a while. Sometimes a year or more. But then it starts itching and I get back into it.

18. After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to ensure the success of your scenario?

I'd say confident. I have put a lot of work into it and made sure I could find no more (major) flaws.
I also try to think about what might interest others and keep that in mind when designing a scenario.
However I do sometimes have (minor) problems with playability and balance, it can be tricky to find that exactly right gameplay experience.

19. Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't be rated high (high is 4.0+)?

No.

20. What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you start designing scenarios?

I like to think of new places to go with this game and editor. I mean this both literally and metaphorically.
I also love to think of ways to use tricks and bugs that other people have discovered, to create something previously impossible or never done. And I'm competative and like to strive for higher ratings and such.
Ah... how I started designing. 6 months after the game had been released I played it regularly with my 2 roommates, one of them made a map. This inspired me to try and make a good looking 3-way balanced multiplayer map.( a little ambitious for a n00b, lol)
After this I found a wonderful site with custom maps, 'Stronghold.Central'. (now long gone)
I made some unuasual(and crappy) maps like 'The Animal Kingdom' and 'Rescue the Lord!' and started posting on the SC forums.
I've been hooked pretty much ever since.

21. What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design scenarios?

I basically always have a 'main hobby', and when I don't design it has been movies, roleplaying games like BGII and NWN or playing magic. But what I like about designing in contrast to those other activities is that it's a very creative and active activity. And it's not just editing, but also researching and writing. But because I also paint at the art academy it sometimes is a bit too much.

Well, thats all folks, if you have never designed I really recommend trying it, it's a wonderful thing to do!

Sir Rob
Archer
posted 08-17-06 16:31 EST (US)     25 / 31       
I've been wondering about a lot of these topics myself.
Some maps and missions make no sense. Some missions are basicaly skirmish misssions, you gather material, build an army and fight to the death. Some missions have built in failure, resources are too far away, land to build on is scarce and the player basicaly gets bored waiting for the stone to arrive.
Obviously it isn't easy, just take a look at the mistakes of the original game and the patch that basicaly fixed balance issues.

If we execute anyone who steals food from the grainary; we'll put on end to crime!
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